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The World Is Greater Than Five: A Political Sketch

The World Is Greater Than Five: A Political Sketch

Despite his pragmatic zigzagging skills and an excellent talent for political acrobatics, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rhetoric and ideology have been strictly static and consistent on some taboo-like issues.

Two such issues, when combined, offers us a political theory for an utopian world order.

1. Mr Erdoğan claims he is a firm believer of vote-count democracy. For him the ballot box is sacrosanct. In this political worldview; a- the contestant in a political race who wins most of the votes is the legitimate leader, and b- as his legitimacy dictates he should be able to rule as he wishes i.e., with no or minimal checks and balances. The way he rules cannot be disputed or constitutionally challenged because “he won most of the votes.” This, he often calls, is the “will of the nation,” and it is perfectly democratic that the winner of an election should be able to rule as he wishes. The will of the nation is sacred and the elected leader should be able to control the entire state mechanism, from legislation to judiciary. It would otherwise be a disrespect to democracy and to the nation. This is largely how Mr Erdoğan has justified his authoritarian democracy.

In his referendum campaign before the April 17th, 2017 vote, Mr Erdoğan championed constitutional amendments that made him head of the state, head of government and head of the ruling party all at the same time. The amendments gave him almost unchecked powers and the authority to rule by decree. As the will of the nation endorsed the amendments Mr Erdoğan won the power to appoint cabinet ministers without requiring a confidence vote from parliament, propose budgets and appoint more than half the members of the nation’s highest judicial body. In addition, he has the power to dissolve parliament, impose states of emergency and issue decrees.

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2. Mr Erdoğan’s other sacrosanct view suggests a new world order to make the world a better place to live, with much less oppression and injustice that the mankind must endure today. What to do? Mr Erdoğan points his fingers to the United States Security Council and loudly says “the world is greater than five,” referring to the five permanent members. According to his theory, most evil that has happened in the world must be blamed on this old world order which must be radically reformed. The fate of mankind cannot depend on the realpolitik exercised by just five nations, with 189 others just watching and often becoming victims of how the five (even, at times, one, who has the veto power). The post-WWII UN system cannot be sustained, Mr Erdoğan argues, if we want peace and justice in the world.

When these two theories are combined they make sense – at least in theory. But Mr Erdoğan should think of more direct democracy for the world if he sincerely believes in his “will of the nation” sanctity. One day, not too distant probably, technology will allow the citizens of the world to be able to vote for a “president of the world.” What about a World President elected by direct vote of all nations of the world (will of the nation) and equipped with all the presidential powers Mr Erdoğan today possesses?

Imagine a Worldwide Presidential Election. Hundreds of candidates freely campaigning. Worldwide direct democracy. The will of the nations of the world combined. Near perfect democracy. The world elects its president by popular vote – just like Mr Erdoğan wants it. Who gets most of the votes wins. And the elected president should have the exact same powers as Mr Erdoğan today has. Not more, not less. Just as he thinks appropriate.

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This should normally be a dream scenario for a politician who idolizes popular vote and unlimited presidential powers. Would it, for Mr Erdoğan? Ask your cat and even it will give you the right answer.

In that utopian worldwide elections/president scenario Mr Erdoğan’s favourite political geography, the ummah, would probably have one Shia and dozens of Sunni candidates in addition to a number of nationalist Muslim candidates from Asia (a Bangladeshi, a Pakistani, an Indonesian and a Malay). The presidential race would also see a number of American, one Russian and a few European contenders. A few African Muslims and several African non-Muslims, too. The emergence of a couple of Indian candidates v. one monolithic Chinese candidate would mean a Chinese World President at the end of the race.

Where would Mr Erdoğan finish the race? Definitely not in the top 10. So, fiction, yes, but in Mr Erdoğan’s sacred head-count democracy the world would be ruled by a Chinese leader. And he should be equipped with the same powers Mr Erdoğan today has. Would this not be a near-perfect new world order and a near-perfect vote-count democracy, just like the one Mr Erdoğan advocates in Turkey?

Yes, Mr President, you are right to argue that the world is greater than five. But it is also greater than 20 too. You should think of more direct, more vote-based democracy when it comes to your new world order vision – why not apply the same perfect Turkish democratic model to the world?

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv.James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary.Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London).(Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

1 Comment

  1. Attila_the_hun

    Mr Bekdil,
    Your political satire is priceless. I wonder why Erdo is tolerating you.
    God bless you.


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